Low Cost Ways to Improve Warehouse Operations
Warehouses often use large-scale solutions such as warehouse management systems, bar coding, material handling systems and automated data collection to optimise their operations. However, there are also lower cost ways that can improve warehouse operations.
Training employees is relatively inexpensive yet often gives the highest return on investment for your operation. A lack of employee training and adequate procedures is likely to lead to safety issues, stressed workers, low productivity and morale. Take the time to establish clear procedures and rules for your operations, and implement a worker-training program and document all of your operating procedures. Train your managers and supervisors to enforce your procedures and rules.
Make sure workers have the best equipment for accessing and moving materials. Examples of low-cost equipment that can help increase safety and productivity in warehouses are pallet handling equipment such as palifts and spring pallet lifters, platform ladders and drum handling equipment. Use carts and rolling equipment with good quality wheel or caster assemblies – it makes a huge difference to those pushing the cart.
Warehouse equipment maintenance is both a safety and productivity issue. You need preventative maintenance plans for conveyor systems, lift trucks, automated material handling equipment, stretch wrapping machines, dock equipment, palletisers, compactors, bailers and pallet racking. Train your employees to report equipment problems immediately and prepare for breakdowns by having contingency plans in place for all key equipment.
Tools and supplies
Make sure employees have the right tools and supplies to perform their job. Delays happen when cutters are not sharp enough or nobody can find a pocket calculator. It is especially important to supply the correct safety gear. A worker might risk injury because they could not find a pair of safety goggles or gloves. Use a tool storage system to keep frequently used equipment in handy locations and store rarely used items away from active workspaces. If you have items that are no longer used, recycle, sell or scrap them.
Signs and Labels
Improve picking and storage times by being a stickler for using signs and labels. Use easy-to-read labels on cartons and pallets, location labels on pallet rack positions and storage shelving and signs to identify aisles clearly. You can paint the floors or use floor graphics to identify forklift lanes, show designated floor storage locations and staging lanes in dock areas.
Good housekeeping practices lead to better safety, productivity and morale. Create a cleaning schedule that addresses all areas of the warehouse. Sweep floors in high-traffic areas once per day or per shift and sweep lesser-used floors weekly. Always pick up debris such as stretch wrap and broken pieces of pallet straight away to avoid safety hazards. For slippery floors around machines, schedule regular mopping or scrubbing. Designate specific areas for storing pallets, crates and other items. Provide enough rubbish bins, housekeeping supplies and equipment for employees.